It hasn’t even been a week since Israel Adesanya defeated Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236 to win the UFC interim middleweight title in one of the greatest championship fights in MMA history, but already “The Last Stylebender” is planting the seeds for his future opponents. Just a couple days after beating Gastelum by decision to become the new kingpin at 185lbs with champ Robert Whittaker still on the sidelines, Adesanya was on MMA Fighting’s “The MMA Hour” and criticized UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, calling him a bully and someone who he wants to fight.
To be fair, Jones started all of this when he called out Adesanya for a lackluster performance back at UFC 234 earlier this year when he won a decision over Anderson Silva. And he poured more gasoline on the fire when he once again criticized Adesanya for the fight against Gastelum, which got Adesanya heated. We all know how smart Jones is and this isn’t the first time he’s openly called out opponents for future fights, and he did so because he believes Adesanya is a money fight for him. And clearly, Adesanya thinks the same thing, because he’s made it clear from his recent interviews that Jones is an opponent who interests him very much.
There aren’t too many legitimate draws in the sport right now, but Jones is one of them. The UFC light heavyweight champion has long been one of the most polarizing figures in the sport, but he’s also arguably the most dominant fighter in MMA history, and fans have proven they will pay to watch him fight. The problem for Jones is that very few of his opponents are fighters who draw as well as him. His last opponent, Anthony Smith, is a career journeyman, and his next opponent, Thiago Santos, hasn’t proven he can sell a show yet. That limits the potential audience for a Jones pay-per-view, and that’s why Jones has been calling out guys like Brock Lesnar and Stipe Miocic, because he believes the allure of him going to heavyweight will sell a lot of shows. But with Adesanya now emerging as a potential star for the UFC, Jones seems to have shifted his focus to him, and it looks to be a good decision.
According to UFC president Dana White, Adesanya is trending in the right direction as one of the promotion’s biggest stars right now. With the move to ESPN, the UFC needs fighters to emerge as draws, and Adesanya seems to be someone who is capturing the attention of fans worldwide. Not only is he a tremendous talent who is brilliant to watch do his thing, but he also has a great trash talking game. It’s no wonder Jones wants to fight him, and Adesanya has taken the bait and has clearly indicated this is a fight he wants as well, and now the fans do, too. Adesanya has to beat Whittaker and probably defend the middleweight belt a few times before he can even think about moving up in weight, but if he keeps winning and Jones does as well, this superfight could be more realistic than we initially thought.
A potential fight between Jones and Adesanya checks all the boxes when it comes to big money fights for the UFC. They are two of the most popular fighters in the sport right now, they are both incredible at fighting, they can both talk a big game, both have a ton of confidence, both can sell a show, and both match up well physically in what would be a very intriguing stylistic matchup for the fans. Adesanya still has a number of interesting fights left for him at 185lbs, and Jones still has some work left to do at 205lbs, but they are on a collision course for one another sooner than we think, and when and if these two do meet inside the Octagon, it has the potential to be one of the biggest money fights in UFC history.